Brooks Koepka wrote his name in lights at a US Open littered with enough sub plots to last the summer.
At times, it felt as if Shinnecock Hills was the capital of a parallel golfing universe.
Parched greens and tough pin positions played havoc, with no players under par heading into the final round.
Zach Johnson feared the destiny of the second major of the year risked coming down to “sheer luck”, while Butch Harmon declared: “It’s just not golf”.
Hard to argue.
Koepka branded the third round a “grind”, but toughed it out on Sunday to fend off a flying Tommy Fleetwood and become just the third player since 1945 to defend the title.
If his maiden major at last year’s US Open was memorable, this was more noteworthy in the wake of the lowest point of his career.
Don’t forget, Koepka missed the Masters with a painful wrist injury which forced him to wear a cast, while Shinnecock was only his sixth outing of 2018.
To not hit a golf ball in anger from January to April and perform the way he has in recent weeks is remarkable.
I believe being forced to watch a lot of golf from his sofa at the start of the year actually benefited him.
An enforced rest from the practice range allowed him to reprogramme his mind and refocus his desire to make an impact when he returned.
He was ready for the heat of battle and trusted his game. On Friday, he was 11 shots behind Dustin Johnson, but didn’t panic.
Koepka is a superb striker of the ball, but he also has it between the ears. How he processed the adversity of Shinnecock was key to his success.
He merits his place in history alongside the likes of Curtis Strange (1988 and 1989) and Ben Hogan (1950 and 1951), who also won the US Open back-to-back.
While Koepka hit the heights, it was a week to forget for Rory McIlroy after he missed the cut.
I fear Rory is trying too hard to be perfect for the majors and it’s having a negative impact. Top players feel these events define them and it weighs heavily on the mind.
Just look how Dustin Johnson’s errant putting cost him in the final two rounds.
Rory is struggling in the wind but only because he is trying to be too precise. Sometimes you have to forget about your swing and focus on hitting shots.
His A-game remains the best on the circuit.
If he trusts his instincts, plays aggressively and takes chances, he can still have a big summer.
He should Phil ashamed of himself after that farce
Phil Mickelson brought the game into disrepute at Shinnecock Hills.
He also did untold damage to his reputation with his antics at Saturday’s 13th green.
Butch Harmon was “lost for words”, while former two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange led the chorus of disapproval at the player’s decision to strike a moving ball on the green.
Mickelson showed a blatant disregard for the spirit of the game and the USGA should have disqualified him, but bottled it.
They’re supposed to be the custodians of the game in the USA, so for one of America’s poster boys to behave the way he did and only suffer a two shot penalty sends out the wrong message.
Mickelson’s ill advised decision to mock his behaviour with an over-the-top celebration at the 13th green on Sunday merely rubbed salt into the wound.
The whole episode is an ugly blot on his CV.
McDowell & Lowry suffered cuts and bruises
Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell didn’t help their FedEx Cup rankings at the US Open.
Added to Rory’s early departure, the three missed cuts made it a week to forget for the Irish players.
Shane heads back to the familiarity of Europe in a precarious position – he’s 153rd in the FedEx table – and he needs his game to catch fire over the next two months.
I do think Gmac, who is 137th in the US rankings, should relish this week’s outing at the Travellers.
He may have had an MC at Shinnecock Hills, but he believes his game is in decent nick and his recent T5 finish at the Italian Open will be fresh in the memory.
Both Lowry and McDowell face a heavy load over the summer, but it’s a schedule that will determine their playing rights in the States next season.
I expect both to rise to the challenge heading into the business end of the season.
BMW International Betting Slip
Thomas Pieters – 22/1 EW
Will be keen to reignite season after a T14 in his last outing at Italian Open.
Martin Kaymer – 33/1 EW
Home comforts at Larchenhof should help German tilt for another win.
David Horsey – 70/1 EW
2010 champion looks good each way value after T7 at Shot Clock Masters.
Rory McIlroy – 12/1 EW
Fully expect joint favourite to bounce back from a disappointing US Open.
Ryan Moore – 33/1 EW
Rested after a T13 at Memorial and boasts five top-10s in 10 starts here.
CT Pan – 80/1 EW
Form of Taiwanese is trending in right direction.